By Scott Prater
After starting this season on a four-game losing streak, 50th Space Communications Squadron players could have easily blown off the remainder of their 2011 campaign.
Instead of wallowing in self pity and dwelling on what might have been, they focused on a team mentality — and turned their season around.
With Feb. 22’s 49-37 Schriever intramural basketball victory over 4th Space Operations Squadron, 50 SCS grabbed its fourth win in five games to even its record at 5-5. And with less than three weeks remaining in the regular season, the team has shown it could be one of the league’s best come playoff time.
“It’s been sort of a revenge tour lately,” said point guard Stacey Kennedy. “Over the past couple of weeks we’ve beaten all four teams that beat us early in the season.”
While Tyler Carter scored a game-high 13 points and Orlando Vasquez added 12, six different 50 SCS players scored five or more points in the victory.
“It seemed like they had three different guys guarding me,” said 4 SOPS guard and team captain Steve Whitworth. “They kept rotating in fresh guys and we didn’t have our full complement of players. We’re not worried though. We beat them just a couple of weeks ago and we’ll get another chance at them in the playoffs.”
Judging by the game’s first 10 minutes, the teams seemed destined for overtime.
Vazquez buried a 3-pointer from the right wing to tie the score at 8-8 midway through the first half, but 50 SCS followed with a 6-0 run to take the lead for good. Bernard Baum drained a running jump shot from the baseline and Carter followed with a short jumper and fast-break layup to drive the rally.
Joseph Jenkins answered for 4 SOPS with a drive and bucket that trimmed the lead back to four, but thanks to poor shooting and some frequent turnovers, that was as close as 4 SOPS would get the rest of game.
“We pride ourselves on being able to adapt to what our opposing defense is giving us,” Kennedy said. “Our main objective is to recognize mismatches and get the ball into where we have an advantage. If we have an advantage inside that’s where we go, and if it’s on the perimeter we get the ball outside.”
That strategy wasn’t something the team could execute early in the season, according to Vasquez.
“We needed some time to gel as a team,” he said. “After about our fourth game we started moving the ball well and everyone kind of learned where they were going to play.”
Jenkins began to find his range late and Whitworth scored eight of his 10 points in the second half for 4 SOPS, but 50 SCS always seemed to find a way to stretch its lead back to 10 over the final 20 minutes.
With 50 SCS controlling the tempo and using its superior depth, Carter, Vasquez and Kennedy combined for 18 second-half points.
“This was a perfect example of team ball,” 50 SCS coach Rafael Meneses. “I guess our players just need to figure out their roles, but the first five games we played individual ball and the last six we’ve played as a team.”